The self-incriminating words, images and videos posted on social media before, during and after the riots even impact their prison terms for many of the rioters who stormed the United States Capitol on January 6.
Russell Peterson’s articles on the riot were read aloud by U.S. District Judge Amy Jackson earlier this month before sentencing the Pennsylvania man to 30 days in jail. On Facebook, Peterson wrote: “Overall I had fun lol.”
The court said Peterson’s social media posts made it extremely difficult for her to offer him clemency.
The “lol” came to my mind because, as you’ve no doubt understood, nothing on January 6 was humorous, ”Jackson wrote.
No one was laughing when they were trapped in a room for hours, squatting under a table.
One of the most important findings of the Justice Department’s investigation into the insurgency so far is the use of social media, with most of the most incriminating evidence coming from the rioters’ own comments and tapes.
Using public tweets and recordings obtained from social media networks, FBI agents identified dozens of rioters.
The positions are used by prosecutors to develop business. Judges are now looking at the statements and photos of the defendants as factors in deciding whether or not to impose tougher penalties.
As of Friday, more than 50 people had been convicted of federal offenses related to the insurgency.
According to an Associated Press study of court documents, prosecutors included a defendant’s social media posts in their arguments for a harsher sentence in at least 28 of those cases.
Many rioters have taken to social media to glorify violence or spread hate speech. Others have used it to spread false information, promote unfounded conspiracy theories, or downplay their actions.
Prosecutors also charged a few defendants with deleting messages in an attempt to suppress evidence.
About 700 people have been charged with federal charges in connection with the violence. About 150 of them have pleaded guilty.
More than 20 defendants have been sentenced to prison or prison terms, or have already served a prison sentence.
More than a dozen others have been sentenced to house arrest.
Prosecutors and courts are not only concerned with what rioters say, whether they are spoken in person or on social media.
According to the Department of Justice’s sentencing guidelines, offenders should be tried not only on whether they used violence or damaged property, but also whether they destroyed evidence, how long they stayed inside the Capitol, where they entered the building and whether they were authentic. contrition.
Prosecutors have asked that Dona Sue Bissey, owner of a hair salon in Indiana, be put on probation, but Judge Tanya Chutkan sentenced her to two weeks in prison for her role in the unrest.
Bisssey tweeted a screenshot of a tweet which stated: This is the first time the U.S. Capitol has been violated since it was attacked by the British in 1814, according to the judge.
Ms Bissey did not feel guilty or regretted for what she had done when she returned home, according to Chutkan.
She rejoices and brags about her role in what amounts to an attempted coup against the administration.
Following a trick that the man from Maryland broadcast a live video from the Capitol, FBI agents obtained a search warrant for Andrew Ryan Bennett’s Facebook account.
Bennett wrote on Facebook two days before the riot: “Be prepared, chaos is coming and I will be in Washington on 6/1/2021 fighting for my freedom!
Judge James Boasberg cited the position as an aggravating factor in his decision to impose a house arrest rather than a full probationary period.
The judge told Bennett that the peaceful transition of power after the election is the cornerstone of our democratic society.
What you and others did on January 6 was nothing less than an attempt to destabilize this government structure.
Lori Ann Vinson has publicly displayed pride in her conduct on Capitol Hill through television interviews and on Facebook, according to Senior Judge Reggie Walton.
I understand that sometimes emotions get in the way and cause people to do and say terrible things, but what was said was outrageous. Is this, however, sufficient justification for me to hand down a prison sentence or a prison sentence? Walton replied, “That’s a tough question for me to ask.”
Prosecutors requested a one-month jail sentence for Vinson, but the judge instead sentenced the Kentucky nurse to five years probation, a $ 5,000 fine and 120 hours of community service.
Felipe Marquez’s social media posts revealed major mental health issues that required therapy rather than incarceration, the judge said. Marquez took cell phone tapes of himself and other protesters inside the office of Senator Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon).
Marquez posted a YouTube video recounting his riot experience to the tune of Shaggy’s It Wasn’t Me, which he rapped in Florida. We even punched cops and took selfies, according to the lyrics.
Marquez donned a T-shirt that proclaimed “FBI Property” in the video. Despite prosecutors’ recommendation of four months in jail, U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras sentenced him to three months of house arrest with mental health therapy, followed by probation.
I think you have some important issues that need to be resolved. “It was an important factor in my sentencing decision,” he explained.
Andrew Wrigley of Pennsylvania received a history lesson from Judge Jackson before being sentenced to 18 months probation. During the riot, Wrigley shared a photo on social media of himself holding a 1776 flag.
The gesture, according to the judge, did not honor the founders of the nation.
The goal of 1776 was to give the people the power to choose who would govern them. The attack on Capitol Hill, on the other hand, was aimed at preventing that from happening, “according to Jackson.
“The attack on Capitol Hill was aimed at undermining democracy by replacing the will of the people with the will of the crowd.
Scott Fairlamb, the owner of a gymnasium in New Jersey, was filmed assaulting a police officer outside the Capitol.
Prosecutors said his Facebook and Instagram posts proved he was planning to commit acts of violence in Washington, DC, and that he had no remorse for his actions.
Senior Judge Royce Lamberth suggested that other rioters in Fairlamb’s predicament join him in pleading guilty.
Lamberth remarked upon Fairlamb’s 41-month prison sentence: “You couldn’t have beaten that if you had been tried on the evidence that I saw. “
However, it worked in his favor.
By posting recordings and footage of himself and his cousin on Capitol Hill, Virginia skipper Jacob Hiles may have avoided a harsher sentence.
According to prosecutors, Hiles received a private message on Facebook the day after the disruption from a Capitol Police officer who indicated he agreed with Hiles’ political view and advised him to erase his damning writings.
According to prosecutors, the officer, Michael Angelo Riley, deleted his interactions with Hiles, but investigators were able to obtain the texts through Hiles’ Facebook account.
Riley was charged with obstruction in October.